Tactical planning is an important management concept. Decision-making can become more cohesive and effective by learning more about tactical planning, reading case studies and adopting best practices. In this article, we will explore the basics of tactical planning and the impact it has on the performance of individuals as well as organizations.

  1. What Is Tactical Planning?

  2. Benefits And Importance Of Tactical Planning

  3. How To Make Tactical Planning Successful

  4. Confluence Of Strategy, Tactical And Operations Planning


What Is Tactical Planning?

How do organizations fulfill their long-term goals? They break up the master plan into shorter ones.

Tactical planning is the strategy by which specific short-term tasks are defined and executed. All types of entities adopt it, be they businesses, non-profits or government organizations.

Tactical planning is one of three planning functions usually performed in an organization. These are strategic, tactical and operational. In this blog, we will explore the meaning of tactical planning and see some examples of tactical planning. However, because all these strategies work toward a common goal, we must briefly understand all three kinds of planning.

Many people are involved in running a business. Senior management, middle management and workers want their responsibilities defined to do their job well. Whether setting sales targets for the year or awarding performance incentives for executives, decision-making is required at all levels and functions. Broadly, there are three areas in which decisions are made: strategic, tactical and operational.

To better understand the scope of tactical planning, we need to understand all planning functions. 

Strategic Planning

Founders, CEOs, CXOs, investors and strategy consultants make the organization’s most crucial decisions. These concern investing, mergers and acquisitions, values, annual targets, product launches, hiring budgets and so on.

An example of strategic planning is WhatsApp Payments, which was launched as a competitor to various other payment apps. While the workforce could be divided over whether to start such a service or not, the ultimate decision rests only with the founder and the core team. This kind of decision, which is to be taken only by the higher-ups, is a strategic planning decision. 

Operations Planning

Accounts, taxation, office timings, attendance, office administration are critical for an organization’s success. These are operational decisions in which investors and strategy consultants don’t usually get involved. These are day-to-day activities without too much scope for decision-making that would impact the organization’s vision.

An operational planning decision is how desks will be allotted to those who join a Facebook India office. The founder of the organization may not visit this office, and even the regional head would probably not have time to arrange chairs. So, this work is allocated to those who lead operations. 

Tactical Planning

What is tactical planning? COOs, vice-presidents and senior managers decide monthly sales targets, hire sales executives or programmers and address business development leads. Founders and CEOs impact this process by finalizing key annual targets and resource allocations and assigning responsibilities for each tactical task.

An example of tactical planning is deciding how many Indian users should be encouraged to adopt WhatsApp Payments for the country office to meet the annual target set for them. Tactical planning will implement the vision that has been created by strategic planning. Tactical planning will split the annual goals into monthly and daily goals. Tactical planning will create a reporting system to monitor these targets on a daily basis and address any deviation from them. They will decide how to incentivize users to begin using it within limits set by strategic planners.


Benefits And Importance Of Tactical Planning

There are many reasons why tactical planning is important:

  1. Delegation: A founder or a CEO can’t do all the work. No matter how dynamic or competent, they have to delegate tasks. After setting the year’s strategic goals, an organization head can let the sales director develop their own tactics to meet them. These could include creating monthly targets and hiring salespersons.
  2. Harnessing the workforce’s intelligence: A wise leader would want to tap into the intellectual potential of his team. Jack Ma says he likes to hire people smarter than him. Giving employees the freedom to make some decisions is one way to make the best of their intelligence.
  3. Scalability: Most fast-scaling organizations need the CEO and their core team to work only on strategic vision, long-term goals and big-ticket deals. They let their employees become leaders and give them freedom within a defined goal to execute plans. This is a common scenario in start-ups. In fact, scalability should be one of the main incentives for a CEO to develop a strong tactical management process.
  4. Quick response: Private equity and investment banking organizations usually have small teams working closely. There isn’t much need to delegate decision-making. However, if the business is big, such as an FMCG, everyone must act fast to capture short-term opportunities. The same goes for e-commerce. If one website discounts a product, others must respond quickly to stay in the competition. This is a tactical planning decision, where you can’t wait for a nod from the promoter/founder.
  5. Flexibility: Tactical planning allows all the cogs to move smoothly because management doesn’t control all decisions. Many corporate houses are slow to respond to situations because of weak tactical planning processes and concentration of decisions into the management’s hands.
  6. Better for CEO’s mental health: A CEO or a founder’s life can be very stressful. Breaks are few and far between. However, those who allow employees some autonomy tend to stay more relaxed. Smart CEOs provide a strategic direction to the organization and form a sound tactical management system so that they have adequate time in hand to focus on the larger picture.
  7. Grooming proteges for strategic roles: Many organizations identify top performers and accelerate their growth in the firm. Tactical planning and execution responsibilities are a good test of an employee’s competence and a learning experience for them. Proteges are expected to learn by managing annual and monthly targets before they’re allowed to set the strategic vision of the organization.

As we’ve established, there are many reasons that show why tactical planning is important. Now, let’s move on to effectively execute tactical planning.


How To Make Tactical Planning Successful

Tactical planning in management is deeply important for the successful execution of the organization’s goals. Now that we’ve understood the meaning of tactical planning, let’s see how we can make it successful:

  1. Resources: Your teams will need adequate resources to carry out their tactical plans. Ensure that you’ve allocated enough resources for tactical planning decisions.  For example, if a life insurance company has set an annual sales target, it has to make sure that there is adequate budget to hire the workforce necessary to reach the target and give the team enough office space to work.
  2. Hiring smart: You can’t expect good tactical planning from freshers. But you can’t only hire seasoned executives. When hiring a young team, assess their tactical planning potential. Including a test that gauges the planning aptitude of an employee in the hiring process can be a possible solution.
  3. Motivate and inspire: While a founder or a CEO may be driven by a corporate vision, those who work below such ranks have different motivations in life. Persons in strategic positions should motivate and inspire those undertaking tactical tasks. Most global corporations have bonuses, promotions and rewards awaiting those who complete their tasks. 
  4. Timelines: When the strategic heads and tactical planners sit together, they should mutually decide timelines for various goals and tasks. This allows the team dealing with tactical implementation to deliver on goals and timelines. The strategic vision has to be broken down into several small parts, each with a timeline. An annual sales target has to be split into weekly and monthly targets.

Keeping these points in mind will help you implement tactical planning in the best way possible.

Confluence Of Strategy, Tactical And Operations Planning

After viewing these examples of tactical planning, are you wondering how different forms of planning come together? These three forms do merge and overlap. Each of them is vitally important in the success of an organization. So is the coordination among them.

A product development activity going on as per tactical planning could be of strategic interest.

In times of a pandemic, operations might call for a strategic response. How education will transition from the offline to online mode is a strategic decision. How students interact with faculty and one another—usually a tactical decision—became a strategic one.

Going back to the WhatsApp Payments example, the number of users to be acquired in a year will be a strategic decision in a start-up. How social media is used to reach that target will involve tactical planning. Operations planning will handle the everyday social media posts.

Good talent exists at all levels of an organization. It’s a common occurrence that while the strategy team may underperform, the tactical management keeps the organization ahead in the market. For example, an organization may flounder on innovation and new product launches, but the sales force may do an exceptional job of selling existing products and, thereby, make up for the lack of innovative thinking at the top. Thus, leaders at all levels within an organization can make a difference.

As an organization grows, it can rely on some successful tactical planning processes to achieve better results. Several business leaders want to delegate their decision-making. However, they are unable to do so because of a lack of knowledge. Understanding delegation better can substantially help a business leader scale-up their ambitions. There is much to gain for students, working professionals, founders and business leaders by understanding planning processes thoroughly. Harappa’s Creating Solutions course will help you make the best decisions for your business, and also teach you how to delegate and build stronger teams.

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